Eight weeks ago it became glaringly apparent that we do not understand the Russians. And that, while most people in the western world do not want it or believe it, we are in a state of war with the Russian Federation.
I hope it will remain a cold war, and we must NOT be the ones that shoot first. Nevertheless, as long as the Ukrainians want to fight, we have to help them. And when the shooting stops we have to remember the destruction caused by Russia and place it in some sort of quarantine. If we do not keep consistently a wary posture towards Russia, what happened with Ukraine will happen again, with other neighbors.
I’m not saying that the Russians are evil. It seems to me that accidents of history has put them in a position to want and be able to do evil. Any other group of people would derive some satisfaction from the belief of being stronger than some unfortunate. And I am convinced that many nations, put in a similar position, would behave similarly. No one is really blameless, and even relatively powerless countries like Romania have started wars of conquest, when capable. But we have to recognize that at this point Russia is particularly dangerous.
Maybe even more important is to recognize that the political fraction controlling Russia has a strong affinity to the negative currents agitating our societies. Bigots, homophobes, transphobes, climate-change deniers, anti-vaxxers, extremists of all colors, racists, plutocrats and anarchists, they all love Putin. I am convinced that flat-earthers are mostly positive towards him. And look at his supporters: Trump, Le Pen, Erdogan, Bolsanaro, Modi, Xi, Kim. Standing firm the side of Ukraine is definitely much more than a geopolitical choice. This is another reason why I am now particularly angry with countries and companies that still deal with Russia. I hope the images with Cannon cameras and Texas Instruments chips installed in Russian drones bother the bosses of those companies.
And when the guns are silent and Russia has had enough of being a pariah I think there is a way forward. See, in the 90’s, the west won the (cold) war but subsequently lost the peace. If all the money lost these days in the western economies due to sanctions and energy price hikes had been used then in a massive “plan Marshall” the countries in the soviet space would be now prosperous partners. And hundreds of millions of people would not find refuge only in imperialist delusions.